[Coral-List] are our hopes for coral reefs false?

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 3 16:20:17 EDT 2013

   Dear Les,
   First  and  foremost,  I can assure you that Iâm among the most ardent
   supporters of the ICRS
   consensus statement. When I first read it, I considered it the Holy Grail
   Iâd been searching for.
   A definitive statement by the leading experts in the marine-sciences that
   would surely compel
   the  diving  industry (and others) to finally end the debate and react
   responsibly with prompt and
   decisive action in the face of the obvious threats that climate change
   presents for coral reefs
   worldwide.  With statement in hand I approached some of the industryâs
   leading personalities in
   the hope that one of these highly respected icons would be able to broker a
   Some tried, others considered it too much of a risk and backed away. After
   all, DEMA is primarily
   dedicated to the growth of the industry and apparently short-term business
   considerations dictate
   that the consensus statement of the Chamber of Commerce is more influential
   than that of the
   International Coral Reef Symposium. In their eyes the economic viability of
   the United States
   must depend on coal, natural gas, and petroleum for the foreseeable future
   and that apparently
   trumps the ultimate existence of coral reef ecosystems.

   Guess I should have known that.    What was I thinking?
   So I donât find your response to my question at all comforting. Not that
   encouragement was your
   intention, but if coral reefs are, as you described, circling the drain and
   if their survival is dependent
   on any level of expedient counter-action, then they most certainly will
   vanish. Itâs good to know that
   we might be able to keep some of the good stuff around for a while and that
   a very large proportion of
   reef-dependent species might possibly survive. After all we have to take
   what we can get. Iâm not going
   to pussy foot around with the sport diving community, but I know what to
   expect and it would be helpful
   if more established marine scientists were willing to step up, be heard and
   back the effort.Iâll make my
   appeal with more urgency, but I'm afraid that imagining a world without
   coral reefs seems incredibly to
   alarm but a few.

   They just donât get it.
   -----Original Message-----
   >From: "Kaufman, Leslie S"
   >Sent: Sep 1, 2013 1:17 PM
   >To: ""
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] are our hopes for coral reefs false?
   >To Steve Mussman and fellow coral-listers,
   >As a co-author of the first draft of the ICRS consensus statement, I can
   testify that the statement resulted from a careful analysis over several
   months by a committee of senior scientists with well-balanced expertise, a
   majority  of  whom are old fogies who still dive (the highly qualified
   youngsters in the group who also dive will hopefully know who they are and
   forgive me). We considered several hundred million years of tropical reef
   and  earth  history,  as well as current knowledge of local and global
   anthropogenic  impacts on coral reefs. We were attentive to the art of
   messaging, but our emphasis was on simply figuring out the truth as best as
   we could. We didn't think our colleagues would respect and join us for
   anything less. We used the word "hope" also, which is variously defined as
   the cherishing or desire of something happening that you actually do expect
   could happen, whether the odds or high or low. We weren't just hoping. We
   were saying that in our profession
   > al opinions, the odds are high that much of the value that flows to people
   from  coral  reef environments can be maintained if we act decisively,
   quickly, and adaptively at both global and local levels. We were also saying
   that if we do not act in this manner, we will lose these values.. Very
   simple. Stop smoking, or die.
   >So to answer Steve's question directly, no, we are not spreading false
   beliefs. We're not spreading any beliefs at all. We are communicating our
   best scientific judgement, and it says that coral reefs are circling the
   drain but we can still plug that drain and prevent some of the good stuff
   from going down it quite so fast. That was the notion that a couple of
   thousand (I've lost count) folks knowledgeable about coral reefs and people
   who  live  near them, endorsed as being consistent with their own best
   judgement,  too..  We might even succeed well enough for some types of
   tropical  reef  community,  and  a  very  large  proportion  of living
   reef-dependent species, to survive the hysteresis (and also the hysteria) of
   climate change.
   >The sport diving community had better wake up. We do not need to pussy foot
   around them, either. Tell it straight. Sport divers don't respond, they're
   their own worst enemies. The disparity in reporting between Alert Diver
   (which is, truly, alert) and other dive magazines is starting to show.
   >Les Kaufman
   >Professor of Biology
   >Boston University Marine Program
   >Marine Conservation Fellow
   >Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics
   >Conservation International
   >lesk at bu.edu
   >From: Steve Mussman >
   >Subject: [Coral-List] A World without Coral Reefs?
   > Dear Listers,
   > I hate to put this out there, but I'm beginning to wonder if I've been
   > kidding myself.
   >  I've been collaborating with others in an effort to urge the diving
   > to openly address the issue of local and global threats to coral reefs
   > including an honest assessment of the pending impacts of climate change.
   > doing so I've found it necessary to tread carefully in that strong
   > resistance remains intact throughout the industry at just the mention of
   > term climate change.
   > But that's not really my focus at this point. What I want to know is this:
   > Are efforts to forestall or mitigate the impacts of climate change on
   > reef ecosystems already past the point being practical? Are efforts like
   > last year's consensus statement from the ICRS just based on the
   > institutional inertia of conservationists who value hope over truth and
   > scientists who can't see the reefs for the corals? Am I (are we) spreading
   > false beliefs and misdirecting efforts by persisting that coral reefs have
   > future rather than urging that we begin to address the greater fallout
   > their inevitable collapse?
   > I'm honestly beginning to wonder.
   > Regards,
   > Steve
   >Coral-List mailing list
   >Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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